Vons employees could strike – maybe

Ready for another strike at Vons?

It could happen.

The union representing Vons, as well as Ralphs, Albertsons, Safeway and other Pavilions stores last week voted to authorize a strike

The labor contract between the union and their employers, ratified four years ago, expired on March 6, and workers have continued on a day-to-day basis since then.

While a work stoppage isn’t a foregone conclusion, the threat recalls memories of 2003-2004’s protracted strike and lockout, which lasted 142 days and cost the stores roughly $2 billion.

During that time, the stores stayed open, but many shoppers drove out of their way to non-union stores, such as they are, rather than cross picket lines, either in support of the action or to avoid risking heated confrontations with striking workers.

In addition to the Mammoth and Bishop, Vons’ 62,000 members of Local 770 struck Southern California, according to Rick Icaza, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union
Local 770.

Talks broke down over wages and health benefits. Vons workers walked out, while Ralphs and Albertsons ordered a lockcout.

Four years ago, the grocery workers voted to authorize another strike, but clerks, stores and shoppers sure didn’t want a repeat, so that deal got done.